The Queue: Sarah K. Khan

The Queue: Sarah K. Khan

Discover what individuals from our craft community are into right now.

Published on Monday, July 13, 2020.
Print by Sarah K. Khan

↑ Sarah K. Khan is a multimedia maker and scholar. In her most recent body of work, she uses prints to reimagine a women-centered history grounded in pre-European colonization of the Indian Ocean World.
Pictured: Sarah K. Khan, Undisciplined Pleasure: Khadija and Razia
Image: Courtesy of the artist

The Queue: Kitchen Table Series

A weekly roundup for and by the craft community, the Kitchen Table series of The Queue introduces you to the makers, writers, curators, and more featured in the most recent issue of American Craft. We invite them to share their shortlist of exciting projects, people to follow, and content to consume to help you stay dialed into what's happening in the world of making.

Melding and reimagining: Sarah K. Khan shares about the work she admires

Based in New York City, multimedia maker and scholar Sarah K. Khan writes and creates content about food, culture, women, and migrants. She interviewed Korsha Wilson, host of the podcast A Hungry Society, for "Thinking with your Hands" featured the Kitchen Table issue of American Craft. Sarah also serves on the American Craft Council Board of Trustees.

Portrait of Sarah K. Khan

How would you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
I work in multiple forms. These days it is film, photography, and printmaking. Each discipline is cooking to me. For the ongoing Migrant Kitchens series, we are mixing, melding, and molding visual angles, forms, and color with sounds, rhythms, and tempo. I always look for ways to make any work multisensorial or evocative of the senses, even if smell, for example, is not possible in a film or photo.

How are you staying healthy and finding balance during the COVID-19 breakout, both personally and professionally?
I have been taking care of family members intensely and only recently got back to my own work. In each instance, I do my best to have a schedule, a discipline, and a practice that grounds me. While caretaking, I gardened fiercely and intensely. Having dirt under the nails and employing my mind-hand to cultivate some hope was and has always been life-affirming. The news, especially the violence that our racist government demonstrates towards Black people, is unacceptable. My work must reflect this, directly and indirectly. Making the work, collaborating, and uplifting others is how I cope.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between craft and food?
All my work, as I said earlier, is cooking. Cooking – making anything really – requires skill, repetition, and is a type of embodied knowledge. My most recent body of work is a series of prints inspired by a 16th-century Central Indian cookbook called The Book of Delights. The exhibition “Undisciplined Pleasures, Vigilant Defiance” showcases this work and reimagines a women-centered history across time and space grounded in pre-European colonization of the Indian Ocean World. The work itself highlights polyethnic makers of food, foresters, healers, and so much more. Each piece of paper has been made either by me or by skilled paper makers from South Asia. I infused each print with essential oils that are described in The Book of Delights. Once again, one is mixing and balancing form, smell, color, and shape, and one hopes that the experience is rich, evocative, surprising, and subtle – and overtime, that the pieces age well.

Print by Sarah K. Khan

↑ Sarah K. Khan, Undisciplined Pleasures: Conversing, Listening, Flirting, Loving I (Orange Blossom)
Image: Courtesy of the artist



Print by Sarah K. Khan

↑ Sarah K. Khan, Vigilant Defiance: Ethiopian Freedom Fighter Abebach (Myrrh)
Image: Courtesy of the artist

Shoutouts and content picks from Sarah

For years, I've supported mainly Black and brown folks. It is a form of micro-reparations and an active way to un-learn and reimagine aspects of an intense Euro-US-centric education. What a delight to see myself and my community represented everywhere because of what I choose to learn. What an act of self-care and re-education to bathe my mind, heart, and soul with narratives that mainstream society sidelines. Here is a smattering of what inspires me today.

Educators I adore because of their expansive and inclusive vision: Deborah Willis, Ellyn Toscano, and Kalia Brooks Nelson (see Women and Migrations: Responses in Art and History), Cheryl Finley’s AUC Art Collective and her weekly IG interviews, and Namita Gupta-Wiggers’s Critical Craft Forum.

Podcasts: Scene on Radio: Seeing White, Scene on Radio: The Land That Never Has Been Yet, and anything with Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Reading or re-reading: Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land, Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King, and Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer.

Streaming: I am binge-watching Ramy, Insecure, and I May Destroy You.

Makers: Any work by Meeta Mastani of Bindaas Unlimited, designer and gifted maker. All the artists, past and present, involved with Twelve Gates Gallery and Project for Empty Space.

Food culture folks that work for social justice: Sana Javeri Kadri and her spice company, Jocelyn Jackson of JUSTUS Kitchen, and the amazing Saqib Keval and Norma Listman of Masala y Maiz. There is so much more I wish I could mention...

The news, especially the violence that our racist government demonstrates towards Black people, is unacceptable. My work must reflect this, directly and indirectly. Making the work, collaborating, and uplifting others is how I cope.

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